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All things pigskin.

2022 Rose Bowl (Ohio State vs Utah)

Before I get started, I have a couple of admissions to make. First, I'm in the "NC or bust" camp when it comes to the Buckeyes. Ohio State is historically a top-5 (or top-3) program, and the Buckeyes are in the midst of perhaps their best run ever, so it's not unreasonable to expect the team to compete for a national championship every single year and win a few along the way (more than one a decade, IMHO). So every season that does not result in an NC (with a few exceptions) is necessarily a "failure" to some degree. With that being said, I can deem a season like 2021 a failure overall yet still enjoy individual moments or games along the way and appreciate them for what they are. Last night was one of those games.

My second admission is this: I had Utah winning the game fairly comfortably, something like 38-27, primarily because the Buckeyes were missing four All Americans (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Haskell Garrett) due to opt outs, and several other key players to injury; and also because I believed that Utah (much like Michigan) would be more physical and more motivated than Ohio State. And for the entire first half and much of the second, my prediction looked to be spot on. Then, talent took over and Ohio State made a memorable comeback....

1. What a great game! If you're just a fan of college football and had no rooting interest in either team, then last night's Rose Bowl was probably the Game of the Year for you. And if somehow you missed it, don't worry: this game will be replayed forever as one of the all-time classics of the sport.

After Utah jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead, the Ohio State offense finally got going in the second quarter with 21 points of their own. The only...
1. Well, that's what Buckeye football was supposed to be in 2020 - complete domination from start to finish, as Ohio State rolled Michigan State, 52 to 12. The only break in the complete domination was a brief span of 86 seconds in the third quarter (from 6:14 to 4:48) when Sparty went on an improbable 2-play, 75-yard TD drive to cut the Buckeye lead to 35-7, then forced a Buckeye fumble two plays later. At that point, I wasn't exactly having flashbacks to the nightmare 1998 game, but it was beginning to look a lot like another Buckeye second half meltdown (a la Penn State, Rutgers, Indiana) was in progress. Fortunately, Shaun Wade made a spectacular interception on the very next play to kill any chance of Sparty respectability, and the Buckeyes closed out the scoring on a 17-5 run.

2. His numbers were okay (17/24, 70.8%, 199 yards, 2 TDs, 3 sacks), but we didn't really get Heisman Justin Fields yesterday. There were plenty of contributing factors - makeshift offensive line, numerous bad snaps, typical December weather, conservative play calling. Perhaps the biggest factor was the success of the Buckeye running game (45 carries, 345 yards, 7.7 average, 4 TDs), led by Fields himself with 13 carries for 104 yards (8.0 average) and 2 TDs.

3. Trey Sermon had clearly his best game as a Buckeye, with 10 carries for 112 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown run (his first as a Buckeye). On the play, Justin Fields was running stride for stride with Sermon, and he threw a block for him at the 5-yard line to help secure the touchdown. I love Fields's hustle, effort, and desire to help out a teammate, but to be honest, I don't want to see my starting quarterback sprinting 60 yards down the field for any reason, especially not to throw a block - too many bad things can happen and the risk is not worth the reward.

4. Chris Olave had a huge game, with 10 receptions for 139...
Post-Game Notes

1. I'm fairly confident in saying that Indiana is not as good as they played yesterday. Hoosier quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. will probably never throw for 491 yards and 5 TDs in a single game (he came in averaging 267.5 yards and 2.25 TDs per game); wide receiver Ty Fryfogle is unlikely to make 7 receptions for 218 yards and 3 touchdowns; and the Hoosier defense won't force another Heisman candidate quarterback into three interception and five sacks. Except for the final eleven minutes of the second quarter, when Ohio State scored three straight touchdowns and held Indiana scoreless, the Hoosiers played over their heads. Not much over their heads, perhaps - after all, they were 4-0 and ranked #9 in the country entering the contest with Ohio State - but enough over their heads that what should have been a fairly comfortable Buckeye victory was not finally decided until literally the last play of the game (a desperate Lateral Mary that the Buckeye defense actually seemed prepared for).

2. I'm not so confident in saying this, but I'm going to say it anyway: Ohio State isn't much better than they played yesterday. In the season opener against a really bad Nebraska team, Ohio State scored early and often and never let up (or if they did let up, Nebraska simply wasn't good enough to do anything about it). Then in Week 2, Ohio State opened up a 21-3 lead against Penn State (now 0-5), only to see the Nittany Lions outscore the Buckeyes 22-17 thereafter. The same thing happened in Week 3, as Ohio State raced out to a 35-3 lead against Rutgers, only to be outscored down the stretch, 24-14. Last night was more of the same: After Ohio State went up 35-7 early in the 3rd quarter, Indiana finished the game on a 28-7 run, with the Buckeyes' only remaining touchdown coming on a defensive score. It's now three games in a row where the Buckeyes have built an early lead and then melted down or slacked off or lost interest or whatever they've done...

1. Indiana University is located in Bloomington, about an hour southwest of Indianapolis. IU is the state's flagship public university. The school's motto is Lux et Veritas, which translates to: "Light and Truth".

2. Indiana's colors are crimson and cream and the mascot is the Hoosier. No one knows exactly what a Hoosier is, other than a term for a resident of Indiana. Some say that Hoosier comes from an old Indian word, hoosa, which apparently meant "maize". Whatever the origin of the obscure word, Hoosier now apparently means: "friendliness, neighborliness, an idyllic contentment with Indiana landscape and life." At least that's according to the Indiana Historical Society, which is probably not the most objective source for such information.

3. Indiana has played football for 132 years. The Hoosiers have been good at football for maybe a dozen of those 132 years. Indiana's overall record is 497-684-44, for a .424 winning percentage. Among Power5 teams, only Wake Forest (.414) has a worse winning percentage.

4. Indiana is not a charter member of the Big Ten, but they have been in the conference since 1900. In conference play, the Hoosiers have a record of 223-511-26 (.311 winning percentage), and have been outscored 18,333 to 11,885 (24.1 to 15.6 on a per game basis). In 120 years of participating in Big Ten football, the Hoosiers have just two conference championships (1945; 1967).

5. Indiana does not have a recognized national championship, or any unrecognized national championships for that matter. The closest that Indiana has come to a national championship was the 1945 season when the team compiled a fine record of 9-0-1 (the Hoosiers' only undefeated season in their history). Indiana's only blemish was a 7-7 tie...
After last night's utterly embarrassing loss to Wisconsin, a 49 to 11 blowout at home that was even worse than that lopsided score would indicate, it looks like the Michigan Football 2020 Preseason Hype Train has finally ground to a halt. The Hype Train is an annual event up in Ann Arbor, a premature ejaculation over the Heisman Trophy and National Championship and victory in The Game that will certainly come this year, because this is their year once again. We're used to the Hype Train down here in Ohio, it's old news and played out and barely warrants a snicker these days, it's all so outrageous and overblown. But this year's loads of loving hype were extra sticky and gooey, and Michigan Man lapped it all up and kept coming back for more. Here are some of the best money shots:

Josh Gattis (Michigan OC): Joe Milton makes NFL highlight reel plays.

Brandon Brown (Sports Illustrated): Compares Joe Milton to Cam Newton and young Big Ben.

Josh Ross (Michigan LB): "We should have the best running back room in the country for sure, no doubt."

Brandon Knapp (Wolverines Wire): Michigan's depth at WR should scare opponents.

Don Brown (Michigan DC): Aidan Hutchinson and Kwity Paye are the best DE duo in the country.

Sam Webb (247 Sports): Compares Aidan Hutchinson to the Bosa Brothers.

Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan DE): Michigan's defensive line will create "matchup nightmares.... It's going to be scary once we get out there."

Shaun Nua (Michigan DL coach): "Kwity Paye is literally a freak."

Josh Ross (Michigan LB): Michigan has the two best linebackers in the country (Cam McGrone and himself).

Cam McGrone (Michigan LB): He is scared for everybody in Michigan's path. Vows revenge on Wisconsin.

Don Brown (Michigan DC): Dax Hill is the best cover guy in the Big Ten.

Isaiah Hole (Wolverines Wire): Predicts that Michigan will be 11-0 entering the Ohio State game.​

Whew! Had enough yet? I'm sure that I could find several more pearls of wisdom...
Q: Can a 49-27 win be unimpressive?

A: Yes. See Rutgers @ Ohio State, 11/07/2020.

Part of the reason the score was unimpressive is that Rutgers left eleven easy points on the field. Rutgers attempted 2-point conversions after each of their four touchdowns, and they failed each time. And in the final minute of the game, Rutgers had the ball first-and-goal from the 2-yard line against the Buckeyes' reserve defenders, and their third-string QB fumbled the ball away without even getting hit. Give Rutgers those eleven easy points and it becomes a 49-38 game. It looked like a 49-38 game. It felt like a 49-38 game.

Another reason the win was unimpressive was the effort level by Ohio State. The Buckeyes lost the battle of the trenches all night long, and quite frankly they seemed bored and even entitled for much of the game. I get it - the Mighty Mighty Buckeyes don't want to play Lowly Rutgers in an empty Horseshoe on a Saturday night. They didn't want to be there. They'd rather be doing something else. But you know who did want to be there, and who wanted to do nothing else but play to a crowd of cardboard cutouts? Rutgers, that's who. The Scarlet Knights were hungry, they were aggressive, they were smart, and, thanks to their coaches, they were innovative. Rutgers had no real chance to win last night - Ohio State was simply too talented to allow that to happen - but they played one Hell of a game. And they made Ohio State look unimpressive.

Now on to some specific news and notes:

1. Justin Fields once again played like a future Heisman winner, completing 24 of 28 passes for 314 yards, with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions. No complaints here.

2. The primary beneficiaries of Fields's largesse were, as usual, Garrett Wilson (6 receptions, 104 yards, TD) and Chris Olave (5 receptions, 64 yards, 2 TDs). Jameson Williams caught just...
Game Thread Penn State Recap
Penn State Post-Game Thoughts

1. With the 38-25 win, Ohio State now leads the series versus Penn State, 22-14 (.611 winning percentage), including 20-8 (.714 winning percentage) in Big Ten play. Ohio State has outscored Penn State 834 to 678 (23.2 to 18.8 on a per game basis). In Big Ten games, Ohio State has outscored Penn State 773 to 531 (27.6 to 19.0 on a per game basis).

2. A 13-point win against a pre-season top-10 team seems pretty impressive, but the game wasn't really that close. Ohio State settled for three FG attempts inside the 5-yard line, and missed two of them (one with an injured Blake Haubeil; one with his backup, walk-on Dominic DiMaccio). Penn State was clearly gifted a FG of their own when the clock malfunctioned (or something) at the end of the first half, and a second FG after a phantom roughing the passer call allowed them to convert a 3rd-and-12. If Ohio State makes their two short FG, and the refs don't gift Penn State six points, then your final score is 44-19. If Ohio State converts TDs in those goal-to-go situations, then the final score is 56-19. You get the idea.

3. Justin Fields had another Heisman-caliber performance. He was 28/34 (.824) for 318 yards, 4 TDs, and no interceptions.

4. If I have one quibble about Fields - or perhaps it is really a quibble about the Ohio State offense in general - it is this: The Buckeyes have a difficult time converting touchdowns inside the 5-yard line. Over the past four games with Fields at QB (Wisconsin and Clemson last season; Nebraska and Penn State this season), Ohio State has been at or inside the 5-yard line eleven times, with the following results: 4 TDs; 4 FGs; 2 missed FGs; and 1 fumble. Four touchdowns in eleven tries inside the 5-yard line is quite simply awful. Granted, Wisconsin, Clemson, and Penn State have solid defenses, and perhaps one or two...
June 2019 will be the most important month for football recruiting in Ohio State's long and storied history. Yes, that sounds like a lot of hyperbole, but some month has to be the most important, so why not June of 2019?

Recruiting in general has become more important in recent years, and much more difficult for football programs to navigate, with early signing, early enrollment, early departures for the NFL, grad transfers, the transfer portal, camps, combines, all-star games, and social media all complicating a process that was none too simple to begin with. However, the the biggest impact on teams - by far - has been the shift from local recruiting to national recruiting. It is no longer good enough for a college staff, in its never-ending quest for talent, to build relationships with players and coaches in its home state alone. Nowadays, the recruiting trail extends across the entire country, and the successful staffs have to build those relationships every step of the way. Because if they don't, someone else will. And when blue chip prospects are at stake, you can't let someone else have the advantage through your own inaction.

As recently as the Tressel era, Ohio State signed 60.4% (134 of 222) of its recruits from Ohio, and 73.4% (163 of 222) from Ohio plus the surrounding states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, and the province of Ontario. In an effort to bring in top talent from around the country, Urban Meyer turned those numbers on their heads. Under Meyer, only 39.2% (73 of 186) of recruits came from Ohio; 47.8% (89 of 186) from Ohio plus the surrounding states; and a majority - 52.2% (97 of 186) from outside of the region, including places as remote as West Roxbury, Massachusetts; Tarboro, North Carolina; Pendleton, South Carolina; North Little Rock, Arkansas; La Grange, Texas; Owasso, Oklahoma; Windsor, Colorado; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Pocatello, Idaho; and Kahuku, Hawaii (although Ryan Day gets most of the credit...
1. Ohio State beat Southern Cal 24 to 7, the Buckeyes first win over the Trojans since the 1974 Rose Bowl. Southern Cal had won seven straight games in the series, including three straight in bowl games (1975, 1980, 1985 Rose Bowls).

2. After the first 27 minutes, Ohio State had a 24-0 lead and it seemed like Buckeyes were on their way to a "name your score" blow out. Then K.J. Hill muffed a punt deep in Buckeye territory. The Trojans recovered and quickly scored on a 3-play, 15-yard drive to cut the lead to 24-7. From that point on, the game seemed like something from the 2002 season, with the defense playing lights out and the offense trying to whittle away the clock while not turning the ball over. Neither team scored in the second half, a half that must have been one of the most boring of the entire 2017 college football season.

3. Between the muffed punt and the final kneel down, Ohio State had six drives, five of which ended in punts and one where the Buckeyes were stuffed on 4th-and-short. During those six drives, Ohio State ran just 27 plays (4.5 plays per drive) for 112 yards (4.15 yards per play). Tresselball, anyone?

4. The Buckeye defense surrendered 413 yards of total offense (5.1 yards per play), but registered season highs in TFLs (14), sacks (8), and turnovers (4). Southern Cal quarterback Sam Darnold, widely regarded as one of the top picks in the 2018 NFL draft, amassed an impressive 356 yards passing with several throws displaying pinpoint accuracy. However, the Buckeye defense often made Darnold look like a future Cleveland Brown, allowing him to complete only 57.8% of his passes, sacking him 8 times for 47 yards lost, and forcing him into 3 turnovers (a pair of fumbles and a pick six by Damon Webb).

5. Cornerback Kendall Sheffield probably had his best game as a Buckeye, with 4 passes broken up and a forced fumble on Southern Cal's opening drive that set the tone...
1. J.T. Barrett might not have a rocket arm; he might be a bit slow in his decision making; he might not be a legitimate NFL prospect; and yes, in the end he might not be good enough to lead this Buckeye team to a national championship. But Joe Thomas Barrett IV is definitely the best quarterback in the 127-year history of Ohio State football. Barrett already holds all of the important career QB records at Ohio State including passing yards (8,547); passing touchdowns (94); completion percentage (.645); and total yards (11,466). Barrett has 2,919 career rushing yards, and he will soon surpass Braxton Miller (3,054 yards) to become the Buckeyes career leader in rushing yards for a quarterback. With 33 wins as a starting quarterback, Barrett still has a very good chance to tie or exceed Art Schilchter's career record of 36 wins.

2. Barrett played the best game of his career - and arguably the greatest game by any Buckeye QB ever - in the biggest game of his career. #2 Penn State was the highest-ranked opponent that Barrett has ever faced, and the Nittany Lions' defense ranked #1 in the nation in scoring defense and #9 in total defense. In addition, the game was essentially a playoff contest for the Buckeyes - with one loss already in the ledger, a second loss, even to a quality opponent, would have meant elimination from the playoffs. And on that big stage and with all that pressure, Barrett simply produced a school-record 423 yards of total offense (328 passing, 95 rushing) and 4 touchdowns (all passing), all while leading his team to an historic 18-point comeback. Barrett was his best when the pressure was greatest, going 13/13 for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter, completing his final pass of the game, the go-ahead 16-yard touchdown to TE Marcus Baugh, with just 1:48 left on the clock.

3. Throughout the first three quarters of the game, the Buckeyes attempted numerous wide receiver screens and running back...